Tiny bubbles aren’t just for champagne anymore. The advent of nanobubbles has made a lot of headway in a variety of industrial processes and products. However, because it is a relatively new science many people still don’t understand the value that incredibly small pockets of air possess. Here is a quick breakdown of what they are, how they’re formed and what uses nanobubbles may be put to.
What Are Nanobubbles?
While children mainly identify bubbles as floating orbs of soap drifting on the breeze, nanobubbles are much different. Standard bubbles are composed of trapped air within a liquid. Because air is more buoyant than most liquids, bubbles quickly travel to the surface.
Nanobubbles are different because they are not only incredibly small, only being microns in diameter. This results in a less buoyant air pocket that remains at a certain level within liquids. Grouped together, these ultrafine bubbles can be utilized in a number of different ways.
How Are They Made?
There are a variety of ways that these microscopic bubbles can be produced. One of the most effective involves forcing air through a carbon-fiber filter. When the filter is passed through flowing water streams, microbubbles are produced.
Since the filter acts as a microporous diffuser, the process results in nanobubbles with a negative charge. This helps them remain neutrally buoyant, while their size also keeps them in liquids for a much longer duration than traditional gas pockets. Water remains highly aerated longer, making t more useful for a variety of projects.
Uses for Nanobubbles
Anyone who has done a load of laundry knows that bubbles are great for cleaning. Having nanobubbles that last much longer than traditional ones means more powerful scrubbing action. In addition, their smaller size means many nanobubbles that fill the same volume as a conventional microbubble will have a much greater surface area. This lets solutions mixed within the liquid be more effective. Some current and possible future uses include
- Textile cleaning
- Water filtration
- Oxygenated irrigation
- Food production
- Steam sanitation/cleaning
- More efficient lubrication
These tiny gas spheres are also effective at cleaning and aerating large bodies of water. Because they remain neutrally buoyant, they can flow with currents and eddies that circulate through the area, lasting months or even years before becoming completely dispursed.
As scientists and industrial development teams learn more about nanobubbles, additional uses will doubtlessly be discovered. Effective at treating everything from dirt and grime to biological substances, there may be no limit to the potential nanobubbles may hold for the future.